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ADHD medication can cause an increase in blood pressure
The drug Ritalin, used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD), is suspected of increasing blood pressure. Children and adolescents taking Ritalin should therefore have their blood pressure checked regularly.
According to the expert of the German Society of Pediatric Cardiology, Martin Hulpke-Wette, ADHD patients are at increased risk of high blood pressure from taking Ritalin. There are indications that the active ingredient methylphenidate, which is often used in conventional medicine to treat ADHD in children and adolescents, increases blood pressure "in 80 percent of patients", the Göttingen specialist for pediatric and adolescent medicine told the news agency "dpa ".
Regular blood pressure checks Children and adolescents who are treated with Ritalin for diagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorders should, according to the expert, check their blood pressure every three months. Because the Ritalin active ingredient methylphenidate brings with it a significantly increasing risk of increases in blood pressure. Martin Hulpke-Wette said that the blood pressure increases were “strong and permanent”, “mostly only slightly, but for individuals”. According to the expert, the associated health risks have so far been significantly underestimated. A thorough medical history is therefore urgently required before treatment with an ADHD medication. If the treating therapist comes to the conclusion that the administration of Ritalin is necessary, a check must be carried out in children and adolescents at least every three months because of the increased risk of high blood pressure, explained Hulpke-Bet. The "parents should definitely address this," advises the expert from the German Society of Pediatric Cardiology.
Warning of further ADHD medications Around half a million children in Germany today suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD), although the number of corresponding diagnoses has increased significantly in recent decades. In fact, most experts are convinced that no more children and adolescents develop AHDS today than in the past. The symptoms are only significantly more often classified as requiring treatment. Since the so-called Zappelphilipp children are often unfocused, fidgety, impulsive and easily distracted, they are particularly noticeable in everyday school life. It is not uncommon for those affected to be treated with medication afterwards. However, many doctors and parents are extremely critical of these to this day. Not without reason. It was only in December that the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM), together with the manufacturer of the ADHD drug Strattera (active ingredient atomoxetine), pointed to a significantly higher rise in blood pressure in some patients. Doctors were asked to restrict the prescription to people with severe heart problems.
Increased risk of atherosclerosis from ADHD medication? According to Martin Hulpke-Wette, increased blood pressure is associated with a long-term risk of later arteriosclerosis for ADHD patients. According to the expert, this is particularly critical since the medication is often prescribed from adolescence to adulthood today. "For arteriosclerosis, which develops over many years, every risk factor counts, such as being overweight, increased lipid levels or smoking," explained Hulpke-Bet. However, with at least three or more factors occurring at the same time, these risk factors “no longer additively, but exponentially,” emphasized the expert from the German Society for Pediatric Cardiology. Although the pediatric cardiologist generally has no objection to "drug therapy - if attention is paid to the side effects in the cardiovascular sector", the treating physicians should keep an eye on the long-term consequences and take the necessary precautionary measures. When using Ritalin and Co, it is imperative to pay attention to an appropriate dosage, which in case of doubt must be continuously adjusted. However, the high blood pressure is "nothing bad" as long as it is "discovered and observed", according to the Göttingen pediatric cardiologist. Blood pressure can often be normalized again by adjusting the drug dose.
Massive increase in prescriptions for Ritalin A possible increase in the risk of heart disease due to the long-term use of Ritalin has been controversial for years. Most recently, a large cohort study with US citizens aged 2 to 24 published in the journal "New England Journal of Medicine" came to the conclusion that there was no evidence of an increased number of "serious incidents" such as heart attacks or even deaths during the study period of two years. Based on the increases in blood pressure from medications such as Ritalin or Strattera, however, significantly different results could be expected in the long term. Most experts believe that the increase in prescriptions for ADHD medication observed by Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) last year should be viewed with particular concern. Between 2006 and 2009, the number of prescriptions rose by a full 32 percent, the TK reported in May last year. Almost two tons of the controversial active ingredient methylphenidate were therefore spent in Germany in 2009. At the presentation of the report, the pharmacist at Techniker Krankenkasse, Edda Würdemann, insisted that before prescribing the ADHD medication, “a specially trained doctor with parents, teachers and other caregivers should (should) clarify whether the symptoms of the small patients cannot have other causes ”. (fp)
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